Clue, a new app designed by Ida Tin, wants to help women remove the stigma of how women talk about and perceive their periods. According to research from the app and the International Women’s Health Coalition, a large majority of women still use euphemisms to describe their menstrual cycle. “Aunt Flo” and the Clueless-inspired “riding the Crimson wave” are likely the most familiar to the English-speaking world, but European women have certainly coined even more creative ways to describe their periods.
The Washington Post reports:
The Swedish may say, “Lingonveckan,” which means “lingonberry week” and the German say “Erdbeerwoche,” which means “strawberry week.” Some French say, “Les Anglais ont debarqué,” which means “the English have landed” – an ode to the bloody battles of yore.
Though “Les Anglais ont debarqué” is possibly the finest euphemism in existence—it truly has the ring of a historical epic—alas, it still deflects from clear and honest talk about menstruation. Tin’s Clue hopes to banish such euphemisms, usually born of public stigmas around period talk.
“For you to understand your body and take care of your body you have to first not be ashamed of this part of your life,” Tin told the Post. “Without cycles there would be no humans on this planet, it’s that fundamental. That taboo is left over from the dark ages.”
Tin and the International Women’s Health Coalition argue that stigmas surrounding open and frank discussions about women’s health are a broader public health problem. The IWHA points out that, in the developing world, period talk is so rare that young women are often completely unprepared and even surprised by their first period. In addition, they argue very persuasively that cutesy phrases for menstruation, as well as women’s body parts, reduce the science of anatomy to uncomfortable jokes.
Tin developed the app after Tin found the market woefully lacking. The Post reports:
Sure there were plenty of period tracking applications, but, in her view, they lacked scientific seriousness and most were pink and flowery in a way that felt stereotyping and almost belittling.
And it’s true—apps marketed as period trackers have generally been far off the mark. Take, for example, the Looncup, a menstrual cup that uses smart technology to track periods and send texts right from the cervical canal. Though Looncup was featured by Kickstarter as a staff pick and garnered headlines across the internet, OBGYNs were baffled by the invention. Dr. Jen Gutner wrote on her blog that she “laughed out loud” when she saw the invention and wondered if a single woman was involved in the concept.
Tin’s Clue looks to rectify that problem, too. The app gives women a better and broader picture of their health by tracking important symptoms like cramps, sex drive, mood swings and headaches, rather than abstractly focusing simply on flow. Tin thinks of the app as a “body diary and that is very empowering.” She adds that it can be particularly helpful for “a young woman starting out on her first period.”
While the app definitely sounds like one of the better marriages between smart technologies and women’s health, I remain linguistically mesmerized by “Les Anglais ont debarqué.”
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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